Today we’re excited to have Fran Cresswell-Ghose share her journey towards minimalism in her guest post! Fran is the person behind The Eco Desk, your online home for all things sustainable life and style, and more recently, Get Offset, which helps ordinary people with ways to tackle climate change and make a positive impact.
Learn more about her projects here:
The Eco Desk
We hope you enjoy learning more about Fran and her journey going from life in London to living abroad!
My journey from busy London life to living out of two backpacks
I’d always taken it for granted that I’d wind up living in London.
My future seemed clear: get a ‘good job’ and live an existence that my parents could gloat a little to their friends about. I found myself caught up in a cycle of working, drinking and shopping (mostly cheap fast fashion purchases). Anything to stop myself from having to really feel anything.
The temporary high I would get from nights out and new purchases was short lived.
Frittering all my money on meals out, drinking and clothes. None of which seemed to make me feel and happier or more whole. But I saw no way out of this seemingly endless cycle. Looking back, I can see that the things I owned had started to own me.
“Looking back, I can see that the things I owned had started to own me. Then one day everything changed.”Fran Cresswell-Ghose
Then one day everything changed. To this day, I’m still not 100% sure whether I quit or got fired. I just remember sitting in a daze as the “I think we agree that this just isn’t working out” conversation sunk in.
I had worked so hard to get this job with a great criminal justice charity. I hadn’t loved the job, but I was comfortable there. And anyway, “you’re not supposed to love work, right – that’s why they call it work” (at least that’s what my Dad always said). All of a sudden, I had no job and no idea what to do next. But I did have time and a bit of money saved up somehow.
A week later, after a night of heavy drinking, I found myself boarding a flight to Thailand thinking “what the &*$^ am I doing?!” But I did know one thing: I had packed well for my trip around South East Asia. I had a 65 litre backpack stuffed to the brim with items for every eventuality.
It didn’t take long to realise I’d massively overpacked. Over the three months of the trip, I sent home or donated at least 75% of the clothing I had brought. And I felt SO FREE. I found that the less items I had weighing me down (both mentally and physically), the happier I was.
Travelling alone means you have to get used to two things: meeting new people and being in your own company. As someone who had spent so much of their life trying to avoid being in their own company, this came as a shock. With no work, no shopping and no drinking to distract me, I was forced to spend time thinking about what was actually important to me.
Spoiler alert: it definitely wasn’t anything I could buy!
Stepping back from my previous life shifted my focus wholeheartedly to living life to the fullest. That meant loving people and experiences.
“Love people, use things. The opposite never works.”The Minimalists
Fast forward a few years, and I can now carry all of my belongings in two bags. The financial and physical freedom this has created means that I have been able to live in Thailand and Bali and travel extensively while working online. I even met my husband while living in Thailand, which I never would have done had I remained stuck in my London rut. I have less belongings and I am happier than ever.
Of course, from time to time, things do slip. I find that stuff creeps back into my life and I have to keep asking myself if everything I am holding onto serves me. When I am feeling particularly overwhelmed, I often find that having a clear out massively helps my headspace. Overwhelm is – by its very nature – too many things vying for our headspace. So it seems logical to me that I should look for things that no longer serve me – whether they be physical, digital or mental.
Advice for Starting the Journey
Now that you’ve learned a little about my journey to become more minimalist here’s what I wish I’d known when first starting out:
You don’t have to go it alone
There are some amazing resources out there for anyone who wants to delve deeper into these concepts. It’s great to have someone who is a little further along in this journey than you are. Whether that’s an author, a podcast, or a friend, the result is much the same. Learning about other people’s journeys and processes can be super helpful in guiding yours. If you are looking for good resources on minimalism and simple living, some of my favourites can be found here.
It doesn’t have to be permanent
If the idea of getting rid of belongings makes you feel anxious, there are ways to test the waters without going full on Tibettan monk.
Here are 3 great ways to test the waters:
- Temporary Boxing Up – Feeling the fear about minimising your belongings? Lots of people do. A simple solution for this is to box up the items that you are willing to try life without. Put them in a box in the back of a wardrobe or your attic. That way, if you really need them, they are there for you. Likelihood is you’ll find that you don’t need most of what you put in these boxes, and you’ll be much happier to sell or donate it when you know that for sure.
- A Minimalist Style Challenge – clothing is a great place to start to minimise. Many of us find ourselves with a lot of items of clothing that we never really wear. Two of the most popular minimalist style challenges are the 10×10 Challenge and Project 333.
- Start Digitally – If it feels a bit daunting to start decluttering physical things, why not start with the digital. There are so many ways to get started here, but I recommend:
- Unsubscribe from unwanted emails using LeaveMeAlone.app
- Delete duplicate or unwanted photos from your phone
- Sort through your cloud storage for files that are no longer useful or relevant.
One of the big benefits of decluttering online is that it cuts that carbon footprint of your online life. What’s not to love?!
Fran Cresswell-Ghose is the founder of The Eco Desk and Get Offset. Her personal mission is to live the most fulfilling and ethical life possible. It is her hope that she can be a source of inspiration for those who seek to do the same.
When she’s not working, you’ll find her hunting down the best vegan tacos and probably petting the nearest puppy.